Virgin Australian is cancelling one of its four weekly services between Brisbane and Cloncurry effective October 23, 2019. The affected flights are Wednesday’s VA493 out to Cloncurry and the return VA494 service to Brisbane.
Virgin’s Cloncurry services are operated by Alliance Airlines on behalf of Virgin Australia.
The small town of Cloncurry has a population of nearly three thousand people and is located 1,700 kilometres north west of Brisbane and 800km inland from Townsville. The nearest major town, Mt Isa, is about a ninety minutes drive away. It is the sort of town that relies heavily on its airlinks. Unfortunately, these remote town links are often a tenuous proposition for airlines.
Since launching the flights to Cloncurry in 2013, Virgin Australia has been criticised for high fares. A dummy booking for a return flight in October 2019 on the Virgin booking engine puts the cost of going to Brisbane for a week at AUD$1130.
The high cost of fares on the route was cited on the ABC’s AM program this morning in a discusssion between presenter Sabra Lane and ACCC Chairman, Rod Sims.
Many airlines have introduced cheaper community fares for local residents of remote communities but Virgin Australia has not done so.
Virgin Australia notes that the cancellation of one of the Wednesday Cloncurry service is not related to CEO Paul Scurrah’s route review. Rather this flight is a seasonal service that caters for temporary upticks in passenger numbers. Virgin Australia notes that there remain three flights a week on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. The cancellation is, as Virgin notes, just part of the ongoing adjustment of services to cater for demand and optimum aircraft use.